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Reducing Juvenile Delinquency Essay

3076 words - 12 pages


The current statistics of juvenile delinquency are astounding. I will look at the most recent statistics and a few of the programs implemented to reduce or prevent delinquency. Before delving too deep into juvenile delinquency, it is important to consider the definitions of "juvenile" and "delinquent". The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives two definitions of "juvenile": 1. Showing incomplete development, and 2. A young person; one below the legally established age of adulthood (1997). Merriam-Webster defines "delinquent" as: offending by neglect or violation of duty or law (1997). As a complete definition of juvenile delinquent it is safe to repeat "a person below the established age of adulthood that offends by neglect or violation of duty or law (1997)".
The history of juvenile delinquency had harsh beginnings. Children were viewed as non-persons until the 1700's(Rice 1995). They did not receive special treatment or recognition. Discipline then is what we now call abuse. It was believed that life was hard, and you had to be hard to survive. The people of that time in history did not have the conveniences that we take for granted. For example, the medical practices of that day were primitive in comparison to present-day medicine. Marriages were more for convenience, rather than for childbearing or romance. The infant and child mortality rate was also very high. It did not make sense to the parents in those days to create an emotional bond with children when there was a strong chance that the children would not survive until adulthood (1995).

At the end of the 18th century, "The Enlightenment" appeared as a new cultural transition. People began to see children as flowers, who needed nurturing in order to
bloom. It was the invention of childhood, love and nurturing instead of beatings to stay in line (1995). Children had finally begun to emerge as a distinct group. It started with the upper class, who were allowed to attend colleges and universities.
Throughout all time there has been delinquency. It may not have had the delinquency label, but it still existed. In ancient Britain, children at the age of seven were tried, convicted, and punished as adults. There was no special treatment for them; a hanging was a hanging. Juvenile crime is mentioned as far back as ancient Sumeria and Hammurabi, where laws concerning juvenile offenders first appear in written form (1995).
Industrialization set into motion the processes needed for modern juvenile delinquency. The country had gone from agriculture to machine based labor intensive production. Subsistence farming quickly turned into profit making (1995). People who were displaced from their farm work because of machinery were migrating to the city to find work. This led to urbanization in such places as Chicago, which in turn caused the cities to burst at the seams (1995).

There was also a huge increase in the amount of movable goods that were produced and...

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